Ermey, R. Lee: Actor in Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket Dies at 74

R. Lee Ermey, best known for his portrayal of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman in Kubrick 1987 Full Metal Jacket, has died. He was 74.

“It is with great sadness that I regret to inform you all that R. Lee Ermey (‘The Gunny’) passed away this morning from complications of pneumonia. He will be greatly missed by all of us,” his manager tweeted.

In addition to Kubrick’s Oscar-nominated film, which earned him supporting actor Golden Globe nod, Ermey played other authority figure roles, including Sheriff Hoyt in 2003’s “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” a police captain in “Se7en,” and the voice of the plastic army men’s leader Sarge in “Toy Story.”

Ermey was a former US Marine Corps staff sergeant and honorary gunnery sergeant, and served as a drill instructor from 1961-1972. He was stationed in Okinawa, Japan for one year until 1968, when he was moved to Vietnam and spent 14 months there.

His first film role occurred when he was studying in the Philippines, and he played a First Air Cavalry chopper pilot in “Apocalypse Now,” also serving as a technical adviser to Coppola. He had a series of other small roles until his casting in “Full Metal Jacket.”

Ermey was originally set to serve as technical adviser to Kubrick, but the director was so impressed by instructional tape Ermey put together that he instead cast him in the role of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman.

Kubrick allowed Ermey to improvise and write his dialogue–Ermey often only needed two or three takes to finish a scene — both unusual for Kubrick films.

Ermey had roles in some 60 films, as well as several voice credits, including “The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy,” “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “The Simpsons,” and “Family Guy.”

He also hosted two programs for the History Channel: “Mail Call,” in which he provided expertise on military issues, both modern and historic, and “Lock N’ Load with R. Lee Ermey,” which focused on different types of weapons.

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